What Is a Hero?

You’re probably asking yourself this question, and wondering if anyone you know might be a Reader’s Digest hero. Read on for some great examples of heroes past and present. Do you know anyone like this? If so, let us know.

A hero works beyond the scope of his or her job, possibly as a volunteer. A hero responds to a social need, or the needs of a person or group. A hero moves out of her comfort zone (i.e., doing something she has no experience with), and may even put her life on the line.

A hero meets a need, reacts in the moment, or feels strongly about some injustice in the world. A hero has had an impact on others; brought innovation to his field to help the less fortunate; developed a program directed at those in need; raised funds for a specific cause; or rescued someone whose life was in jeopardy.

Here are examples of people you’ve named Heroes in the past

•    Charles Turner (Community Hero, 2005) had retired and was dreaming of writing. Then someone suggested merging Halifax’s food banks so they could help more people. It was a good plan, but it lacked volunteers. So Turner stepped in to help out “temporarily.” Some 12 years later, he was still there, co-ordinating 34 people to distribute 1,000 bags of groceries weekly.

•    Following her son’s death at the hands of a bully, Hetty van Gurp (Education Hero, 2006) started Peaceful Schools International, which promotes non-violent conflict resolution in schools. Today, there are over 200 PSI schools in North America, Northern Ireland and Serbia.

•    When Julie Wharram’s car went off the highway, flipped over and burst into flames, Mike Landry, Andy Hilderman and Mark Barnard (Rescue Heroes, 2007) didn’t hesitate. They rushed to her aid, pulling her from her car and moving her to the road mere minutes before the vehicle exploded.

•    It all started with a young Afghan boy-Namatullah-Pauline Gauthier (Health Hero, 2008) saw on television. He was dying of cancer and doctors at a Canadian military base in Kandahar were pleading for funds to send him to a palliative care centre in Pakistan. Gauthier started a foundation to help Afghan children, has raised over $70,000, and hopes to build a pediatric hospital in Kandahar one day.

Do you know someone who fits the above description? Then please nominate them in one of these categories: health and/or research, community service, education, rescue, public life, young leaders (persons under 30), nation builders. The person you nominate could be one of next year’s heroes, and have their story published in Reader’s Digest magazine.

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